1) Tell family and friends about your box
This might not be the most tech savvy method of getting those first customers to subscribe to your product, but it is often the easiest way to start. Tell your friends and family about your subscription box service and have them sign up. A simple start to creating a solid customer base, isn’t it? There are three major benefits to this strategy that will hold you in good stead for the future:
- You may get first orders for your box through the door.
- Those first customers will hopefully spread the word to their networks.
- You can get early customer feedback on your product which you can use to then iterate and improve the product and service. It is all about applying the lean principles at this stage.
2) Get social
Social media networks are the best way to reach your target market for subscription boxes, without any doubt. Setting up pages on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter is a no brainer, right? Invite your friends to like your page. Retweet some famous faces. Share some statuses telling the world about your subscription box and again the sales will roll in, right? WRONG AGAIN!
Just like setting up your website, your social media presence requires many more strategic and smart tactics. It isn’t just a case of creating profiles and sharing a status here and there. Your social strategy could be your most powerful channel for creating customer awareness, driving traffic and gaining subscribers to your product.
Here are the essentials to set you on your way:
Reach out to social media influencers
Getting a retweet from somebody on social media is nice. But when that person only has 12 followers there isn’t a whole lot of value in it. Not that you should discard this person. You should very much make friends with all potential customers, but focusing on being friends and adding value to social media influencers will be a much better use of your time. Getting a social endorsement from one of the leading players in your industry might be the boost you need to raise awareness of your box and reach your target audience more efficiently. So find out who the big players are in your space and add value to them. You can use tools such as followerwonk to find Twitter influencers or CircleCount to find Google+ influencers, for example.
Become a content curator
What value are you bringing to your subscribers? Remember that social media isn’t a place to hard sell to your followers. People use social media to browse content and to interact with friends. So get involved in conversation with your followers, make friends with them and give them something of value to build a loyal relationship with your audience. Share other peoples’ content (particularly from influencers) as much as your own, share articles and your personal views on current affairs and share often. Appear like you are an authoritative and knowledgeable figure in your space — become a thought leader, so to speak — and you will gain the trust of potential customers.
Don’t think that you have to be on your social networks all day long either. You can use awesome social tools such as Buffer or Hootsuite to schedule posts across all of your social networks, leaving you free to work on other aspects of your subscription business.
Choose the right channels to promote your box
Social media strategy might not cost much money to implement but it takes a whole lot of time, and we all know that time is money! So choose your social channels to market your subscription box wisely. Where do your customers hangout? What do they want to see? Which channels convert the most? Don’t feel the need to be super players on Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest and LinkedIn simultaneously. If your subscription box is full of beautiful and visually appealing products, maybe Pinterest would be a better channel to pick up customers rather than the less visual Twitter. Get the idea? Inc.com elaborates here.
Remember: Use social media to build audience relationships instead of constantly trying to sell your product. As mentioned, people use social media to browse content and chat with friends. So, look at social media as ‘making friends’ with your customers. Show them something interesting. Inform them. Talk with them. Make them laugh. Once you build their trust they will slowly filter down the funnel and turn into customers.
Create a hashtag
People love posting stuff and adding hashtags to it, so why not create a cool hashtag to encourage your subscribers to post photos of your box, or maybe even unboxing videos? What is more, you can repost those photos onto your account (crediting the posters, of course), and be sure, your subscribers will adore it and want to post more of your boxes!
3) Use paid advertising
Today, it’s hardly possible to grow your business without advertising, and subscription box businesses are no exception. Depending on where you’re at with your revenue forecast, you may not be ready to invest heavily in PPC at the very start, but what about putting aside a teeny tiny marketing budget to experiment with Google Ads and Facebook ads? Let’s say $20 a week? Set up some tests using copy variants based around your targeted keywords to bring targeted traffic to your site. See which ads have the best conversion rates and keep testing. Eventually you might find that the cost per acquisition is far less than the lifetime value of a customer (CLV). If this is the case you can scale your paid advertising up to generate hot leads and grow your subscription business substantially.
Also, an attractive landing page people you send customers to after they click on Google or Facebook ads is a must to successfully promote your subscription boxes.
Anyway, if you don’t think you’re ad-savvy enough, it’s always a good idea to outsource advertising to a subscription box marketing company. Those guys know pretty well how to sell your subscription boxes to the right folks.
Finally, one more quick tip here: offer free shipping right in your Google or Facebook ads copy. It really works! Don’t be scared away by free shipping: just add it to the box price, if you haven’t already considered this as part of your pricing strategy.
4) Free giveaways
To effectively market your subscription box, you need to do all you can to get the word out about your product. If you are new to the game and want to get noticed you might need to throw your subscription box in the face of customers for free! Let them see how awesome it is. It goes without saying that hosting a subscription box giveaway is one of the best ways to quickly market your box. A ‘Try Before You Buy’ promotion so to speak. If your product rocks, you will get plenty of signups with this tactic.
Remember those influencers you found during your social media strategy? Send them a box for free and ask them to promote it to their millions of followers. Alternatively do what LoveWithFood are doing and have a landing page promoting a free trial.
We’ve all heard the phrase ‘content is king’ by now. As we mentioned above, social media is often used as an inbound marketing strategy to pull in customers to your subscription box business by creating a relationship with them and offering something of value. That value should come in the form of blogging. Creating a blog that will appeal and resonate with your target audience, and then sharing posts across your social media networks is exactly how you will organically build a loyal community around your subscription box business. Once you have those followers on board, you can aim to convert them into paying customers. Additionally, blogging also works wonders for your SEO if you do it right. If you can rank high in Google’s search results for those targeted keywords you could be getting a bunch of organic traffic and customers too. More on this later.
Buffer is a great example of a startup that has become a thought leader in their space as a result of their awesome Buffer Blog. They now get close to 700,000 visitors per month to their blog alone. Because their content is of such high quality and so useful to their customer segment, they attract qualified leads to their blog who are then more likely to go on to convert into paying customers.
Remember, the better the content, the more shareable it will be on social media and the higher it will be ranked by Google.
So what are you waiting for? Go and inform, educate and inspire your future customers with a kickass blog.
6) Guest blog
While you are creating killer content for your own blog, you also need to create it for other blogs too. Guest blogging has always primarily been used to build backlinks to a site in order to boost search engine rankings. But while it has been one of the key marketing strategies in the last few years, Google has recently clamped down on Guest posting in order to control the amount of spammy, low quality articles across the web with many even claiming that guest posting is dead.
But that doesn’t mean that you should avoid guest posting when starting your subscription box business. Guest posting is still a valuable way to tap into new audiences that are relevant to your niche. It is a win-win situation for both you and the webmaster of the site you are posting on. The webmaster will have incredible content that will attract visitors to the site and you will expose your subscription box to a new audience, picking up more followers and more customers.
Remember those influencers you found as part of your social strategy? Create an insane piece of content for them (of course, one featuring your box) to put on their blog and in front of their visitors. If they decide not to use it, you can always put it on your own blog. See how to head up your guest blogging campaign here with EduBirdie’s guide to guest blogging.
7) Create video content
Creating video content is one of the best ways to market a subscription box. It’s a perfect channel to create a relationship with customers and a great way to increase engagement and interaction with your brand. While video content has great SEO benefits, we all know how viral a video can go if the quality is good enough. You can also shoot tutorials on how to use your subscription box goodies, no matter if these are crafts, food, or beauty products and send them to your subscribers every month. Posting such video content on your social media pages can bring you new customers who might be eager to subscribe to your boxes after they see an amazing video.
A prime example is the Dollar Shave Club subscription box whose entire business was built off the back of their genius video marketing campaign that propelled them from just a standard razor-blade company to one of the most successful subscription box businesses globally. It wasn’t a fully fledged production either. Just a single camera, and the Dollar Shave Club founder Michael Dublin telling the absolute truth. Check it out here.
8) Multi-channel selling
Establishing a steady stream of visitors from scratch to your website can be difficult and time consuming. Leveraging the audiences of eBay and Amazon’s marketplaces could put your subscription box in front of a mass audience to help boost your sales. These marketplaces don’t have a subscription payment option, but you should provide customers with a coupon for 10% off a purchase from your online store. This way, you can create the hook to get these customers to make their second purchase on your site and become lifelong customers. Even the big guys have a presence on Ebay and Amazon so you definitely should too. It is an easy way to gain new customers with little effort.
Another affordable but highly efficient subscription box marketing strategy is implementing SEO. Let us explain: Search Engine Optimisation (SEO) is the process of making sure that search engines such as Google can find your website and rank it in search results to give you free, organic traffic. In a nutshell: Google bots will come and crawl over your Subbly website to figure out what it is about. Google will then look at the keywords you use and analyze the quality of the content you produce as well the quality of your site. Afterwards, the spider bots will notice how popular you are by seeing the amount of sites linking to you, and how many people are following you and sharing your content on social media channels. This will give Google a real indication of where to place you in it’s search results (SERPS) for certain keywords. The better the content, the better ‘highly authoritative’ and ‘relevant’ sites that are linking to you, and the bigger the social media presence, the higher your rankings in search results and consequently the more free targeted traffic and more customers you’ll see!
Now, you understand why SEO is completely interlinked with most other marketing techniques we have discussed — none more so than your social media strategy and your blog as we mentioned earlier. By creating new, unique, high quality blog and video content on a regular basis, it is yet another page for people to link to and another opportunity to impress Google who will reward you with higher rankings!
Of course, there is a real skill in optimising your site and your web presence for search engines. From choosing your keywords to rank for, to optimising your web design and site performance, there is a lot to be covered. Neil Patel’s Advanced Guide to SEO is the perfect starting point to set you on your way.
10) Offer coupon codes
Everybody loves a special offer, so it would be unfair to waste such an opportunity while drawing up your subscription box marketing plan. Remember that when we’re in the early stages of a subscription box business, we need every customer we can get our hands on. We need to shout it from every rooftop. Creating a coupon code for customers will make them feel like they’re winning. It will make them less averse to subscribe to your box as they aren’t paying full price for it. It is a great way to capture a customer and make them part of your recurring revenue stream and guess what… people are obsessed with subscription boxes and coupons! Create a coupon code for your sub box like Birchbox, and share it on sites like RetailMeNot and MySubscriptionAddiction where people actively search for coupons.
Offering a free trial is also a viable customer acquisition tool that will help you give your potential subscribers a taste of what you offer. If your box is really good, there is a good chance that they will join.
11) Interact in forums and Q&A sites
This might sound like an old fashioned ‘black hat’ SEO technique to gain backlinks to your site, however this is not what we’re referring to. Use forums, and question & answer sites like Reddit and Quora to tell people about your box. Make sure that the forum or topic is completely relevant to your niche as it will be these people that may actually be interested in what you have to say. If you try to promote your beef jerky to a vegetarian forum you will be shot down for spamming. Instead, bring value to your community, build that relationship, and you could find yourself some paying customers.
12) Build your email list
Email marketing is one of the most valuable channels in the subscription box business. Having an email list of thousands of targeted customers who have all shown an interest in your product means that you can instantly contact them to promote your boxes. Imagine sending out an email to 100,000 potential customers telling them about your new product line. The results can be sensational and it is all free.
The sooner you start collecting emails the better you will be placed in the future. Offer visitors an incentive for signing up. Perhaps a free trial, a coupon code offer, or a newsletter update to receive your awesome blog content. By encouraging your potential customer to sign up for your subscription newsletter, you not only expand the pool of subscribers, but also make a step forward to converting each subscriber into a paying customer.
Mailchimp is a useful tool to store your email list and to then create an email campaign for any news and updates you want to send to your followers.
13) Bonus tip from Subbly Expert Alex Fleck
The bottom line
These marketing tips are a surefire way to get your subscription box business off the ground and make sure you will convert your first paying customers in no time. If you want to have a a sustainable, successful and profitable business, you need to apply these strategies and be patient in seeing results. What we mean is that Facebook Ads, a subscription box giveaway, coupon codes or a blog will hardly work alone: you need to use a combination of strategies to reach your audience and drive sales. It takes time and hard work but it will be well worth it.
Read More About Subscription Box Business
Now that we’ve discussed subscription box marketing, don’t forget to read our 9 tips to start a subscription business without the guesswork to save you time, headaches and money. Don’t forget to read how to get your first 1,000 subscribers as well!